The truth is she was not really looking forward to this event. Even a year after everything that happened, Lucy still had tendencies to be too hyper-aware of what’s around her. She could have sworn that she had left this behind her, but being here, in a large restaurant crowded with people had her senses out of whack even though all she was surrounded by were other police officers.
The LAPD was hosting an event for Toys for Tots at a semi-fancy restaurant and bar downtown. Lucy was dressed in her go-to flowy dark blue knee-length dress with silver heels.
She enjoyed the conversation with everyone around her. Her usual group crowded around her. Jackson sat just to the left of her with Nolan beside him. Lopez and Harper sat to her right. Occasionally, she would catch Tim’s watchful eyes from across the table on her as she looked around the room. She knew she should feel safe being around these people that she’s around all time, but this different environment had her bouncing with anxiety.
“Excuse me,” she says quickly pushing away from the table. She needed a drink. Maybe she would relax a little once she got some liquid courage. “Two straight tequila shots,” she said walking up the bar, giving the bartender a quick smile.
The man behind the bar nodded quickly, grabbing the bottle and two shot glass sitting them in front of her. He filled the glasses to the brim giving Lucy a soft smile once he’s done. “There ya go, ma’am.”
“Thanks,” she says softly, a nervous smile crossing her face. Lucy looked down at the shots in front of her. She reached for one and downed it quickly.
“What are you doing,” Tim asks sliding in beside her at the bar. He’s wearing regular khaki dress pants and a brown belt with a baby blue button-up tucked in, with one button undone at the top. His shirt making his blue eyes shine in the low light of the restaurant.
Lucy looked at him for a minute before responding. “Just getting a drink,” she said softly looking away from him and back towards the bar.
He looks over at her. Almost as if he could see right through her. He always could. He could see when she was thinking too much or when she was overly worried about something. He could always tell when something was wrong. “A drink? That shot was downed pretty quickly,” he teased.
“Just to take the edge off,” she said faintly. So low, she wasn’t sure he had actually heard the words leave her mouth.
“Whiskey on the rocks,” he says looking up at the bartender. A moment of silence passes between them. “Are you okay,” he asks softly looking back over at her. She wasn’t his rookie anymore, but the two had a strange relationship that neither could really explain at the moment. It wasn’t necessarily romantic, but it was more than just friends. It was complicated and had been for at least the past six months.
“I’m fine,” she says firmly meeting his eyes for the first time.
“Okay,” he says picking up his drink that the bartender had sat down and taking a sip. “I’ll be around if you need anything,” he says giving her a dashing Tim Bradford smile before he walked away from her and deeper into the restaurant.
Picking up her second shot, Lucy drowned it as she watched him walk away from her. She wanted him to tell her that everything was going to be okay. That she was going to okay like he did when he pulled her out of that barrel. That everything was going to be okay.
It was hours later into the evening. Everyone had finished their dinners and desert. The event had turned into a social mingle between police officers.
Lucy can still feel herself teetering on the edge of a meltdown. After a four shots total, the edge she wanted to take off seemed to get farther away after each shot. The alcohol had only had her jumpier and more frightened. Each time someone put their hand on her arm or shoulder, she was whipping around. It felt as if everyone’s eyes were on her as she stood in the middle of the room. She wondered if someone was sitting there watching her, just waiting for her to slip again so they could take advantage.
She must have spun in a circle in the middle of the room as she spaced out in the middle of the room. She could see the looks on concern on some of the other’s faces, but at that moment, she couldn’t seem to make her feet move away from everyone.
A hand landed on her shoulder causing Lucy to jump and turn around quickly. Her wide eyes landed on the concerned face of Lopez behind her. “S—sorry,” she stutters. “I need to go,” she says quickly walking past Angela and towards the bathroom away from the crowd.
Tim was laughing with a couple of his old buddies about how they think the Rams will be next season since their playoff hopes were crushed this year.
Angela grabbed his arm pulling him away from them offering the other men a short sorry before pulling him away from them. “I need you,” she says shortly upon hearing his disgruntled complaints as she pulled him across the floor.
“What,” he asked aggressively once they stop in the opening of the hallway.
“Something happened with Lucy,” she tells him bluntly. Instantly, the anger that was on his face was replaced by pure concern. The fire left his blue eyes as worry started to set in.
“Where is she,” he asked looking back towards the restaurant floor trying to catch a glimpse of her so that he could save her from whatever it was. He would save her over and over again, even if she didn’t ask. Angela’s hand firmly grabbed his chin forcing him to look down the hallway at the closed bathroom door. “Damn it,” he muttered.
He covered the distance quickly. His fist knocked firmly against the oak door. “Lucy,” he calls softly.
“Go away,” he heard her broken voice through the door. He can tell she’s been crying, or she is. He wants to bust through the door and hold her in his arms. Just tell her that everything is going to be okay.
“I can’t do that boot,” he says to the door. Boot a term that used to reference her position below him, turned into a term of endearment slowly. “Just open the door and let me in.”
When silence answers him, his eyes slid closes as his jaw tightened. “Lucy,” he says again, this time more sternly using his serious training officer voice. Again, silence answers him. A sigh escapes him. “Fine. I guess I’ll just wait until you’re ready to come out,” he says lowering himself to the floor.
He sat there for a while with his back pressed against the wooden door. His long legs stretched out in front of him. Quietness was all the passed between them. He knew she would come out when she was ready, but it didn’t lessen the worry that pooled in his gut.
He could hear the laughs and giggles coming from the main floor. The others having no clue that’s happening just on the other side of the wall. Angela still stood at the hallway entrance, her back to Tim as she watched the floor.
“Tim,” she says softly on the other side of the door. Her voice was so faint that he almost missed it over the sound of the band starting to play outside.
Lucy paused for a minute and he thought he lost her again. “I don’t know what happened,” she lowly. “I thought I had worked past everything but being here, around all these people, it just hit.”
“You don’t have to explain it to me, Lucy,” he offered. He didn’t want her to think she needed to give him a reason. “I just want to know that you’re okay.”
“I’ll be fine,” she says quietly. “I just don’t know what happened. It’s like it just happened all over again. Everywhere I turned there was someone there. I know that no one here was going to try anything, but I-I couldn’t turn it off.”
“Do you remember what I told you that night in the gym,” he asked after she finished.
“We all have scars,” he started. “They are apart of us whether we like it or not. They make us who we are. We don’t get to pick and chose when and how it affects us. You’re going to get past this, Lucy. I know it. All it’s going to do is make you stronger than you were before.” I’ll be there every step of the way, he wanted to add but stopped himself.
Silence once again passed through them. He had to catch himself from falling back when the door opened. Quickly he scrambled to his feet so he’s standing in front of her.
“Thanks,” she says softly. Her brown eyes glistening with unshed tears in the low lights in the hallway.
Without thinking, he pulled her into him. Her head rested on his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. He could feel wet spots forming on his shirt from her tears. Tim took a deep breath shaking his head. He hated Caleb. If he could dig the man up and put another bullet through him, he would. It killed him to see her still hurting. It just made him angry every time he thought about it, even a year later.
He still felt like it was partially his fault. He was the one that told her to go out with the man. He was responsible for her at the time and he had left her down. Even after Lucy tried to tell him it wasn’t his fault, he still felt guilt every time he thought about it.
“Let me take you home,” he said offering her little room to disagree. It actually surprised him when she didn’t try to fight him on it. With his hand on her back, he ushered them out of the restaurant to his truck.
The ride to her apartment was silent. Songs from the radio softly filtered through the speakers as he drove her home. The first time he had been to her apartment was when they had to round up the rookies because of some missing money. The second time was days after she was released from the hospital. He stopped by to bring her some food and ended up staying most of the day just because she asked. The third time was when Kojo had destroyed her and Jackson’s place. The fourth time, he had taken a drunk Lucy home after a night at the bar a couple of days after the end of her rookie year. Since then every now and then, he would find himself standing outside her door waiting for her to either get food, to let him in, or to take Kojo for a run.
When he found himself at her door again, he wasn’t surprised, but this situation was different from all the others.
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call me,” he told her as she unlocked the door. He meant it. He would be there whenever she needed him for whatever it may be.
“Thanks,” she replies softly pushing the door open. Lucy turned back to look at him. He really did look good out of uniform and instead of taking women up on their offers for a nightcap, he spent his evening making sure that she was okay.
“Goodnight Lucy,” he says once she’s inside her apartment, her arms propped against the door. He can tell she’s tired. He could always tell when she was tired. He gives her a slight smile before turning to walk away.
“Goodnight Tim,” she calls to him as he makes his way down her hallway towards the elevator.